California lawmakers on Thursday approved a bill that would require corporations to include women on their boards of directors, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The legislation would require all publicly held companies based in California to have at least one woman on their boards starting next year, with more stringent guidelines in some cases (at least two women on five-member boards, at least three on boards of six). Now that the bill has passed the state assembly and senate, it will move to Governor Jerry Brown's desk to be signed into law.
Two female state senators, Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara and Toni Atkins of San Diego, authored the bill. "We are tired of being nice. We're tired of being polite," Jackson said in a floor speech, according to the Times. Noting that this measure would benefit the economy and individual companies, Jackson said it's "time that we burst that man-cave and put women in the boardrooms."
A coalition of 30 business groups opposed the bill, calling it illegal to require companies to satisfy quotas on their boards. The California Chamber of Commerce says the measure would force corporations to discriminate against men, the Sacramento Bee reports.
According to the bill, 26 percent of larger companies in California have no women on their boards, while only 12 percent have three or more. The disparity is even more pronounced in smaller companies, where women hold just 8.4 percent of board seats and 48 percent of companies have no women on their boards.